FORT WORTH, Texas – Kendrick Davis scored 31 points, including 14 on a big run before halftime, and Memphis beat No. 1 Houston 75-65 in the American Athletic Conference tournament championship on Sunday.
DeAndre Williams had 16 points and 13 rebounds for coach Penny Hardaway and the Tigers (26-8), who earned the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. They are going to March Madness for the second year in a row.
Houston (31-3) was without AAC top scorer Marcus Sasser, who strained his chest in the first half of Saturday’s semifinal game. The senior guard’s status remains a question mark for the Cougars, who entered their final AAC game since 1983 during the Phi Slama Jama era, a sure bet on their No. 1 NCAA seed.
The Cougars, who will move to the Big 12 next season, defeated Memphis 71-53 in last year’s AAC Tournament championship game and won both regular season games this season.
J’Wan Roberts had 12 points and 20 rebounds for Houston. Jamal Schead had 15 points on 3-of-14 shooting and Jaras Walker had 13 points.
The Cougars trailed by 18 at halftime, but Sched made it 55-50 with 11:03 left after Shead scored eight straight points for them in a two-minute span. His 3-pointer capped a 12-1 run and he hit another long-range shot before making two free throws, but that was the closest Houston would get.
Memphis took control in the first half with a 16-2 run. Davis had all but two of those points and made two 3-pointers just 9 seconds apart.
That big breakthrough started with a quick run from Davis with less than eight minutes to go. Davis made a 3, then Alex Lomax made a layup in the backcourt and gave Davis another 3 at the top of the key. When Davis made another fast break with 3:36 left, the Tigers doubled Houston’s lead, 40. -20.